Area could feel effects of Hurricane Ivan

September 16, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

Some weather models show Hurricane Ivan's eventual path heading toward the Tri-State region, a move that could dump loads of rain on the area over the weekend, two weather experts said Wednesday.

"This is a monster. It has tremendous amounts of moisture," said Andy Woodcock, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "This is serious stuff."

At least one local event has been postponed because of weather forecast for the weekend, and local officials were keeping their eyes on the latest weather patterns to decide how to prepare.


Ivan was set to strike the Gulf Coast today and was expected to take a northeastern curve that would take it through Alabama and eastern Tennessee. The experts said they were not sure what would happen after that.

A better scenario for this region would mean a worse situation for the southeastern U.S., Woodcock said. A high-pressure system that was working its way down from New England could hold the system farther south, possibly stalling it over southern Virginia, eastern Tennessee and even northwestern Georgia.

Woodcock said should that happen, it could mean as much as 10 to 15 inches of rain in southern Virginia.

For the Tri-State region, the worst-case scenario would bring the remnants - a tropical depression by the time it reaches this point - through Western Maryland, basically over Hagerstown, said Allan Reppert, a meteorologist with

Reppert and Woodcock said if the storm system took that path, it could reach this area between Saturday and Monday. They said they couldn't predict accurately how much rain could fall on the region if the tropical depression came this way, although Reppert said it would be a minimum of 1 to 2 inches.

"The atmosphere is going to duke it out over the next few days," Woodcock said.

The Fairchild Industries reunion set for Saturday at Hagerstown Regional Airport has been postponed until further notice due to the weather, said Marsha Fuller, one of the organizers of the event.

The City of Hagerstown recently faced problems with its sewer plant as a result of heavy rains, but enough rain also could affect the plant that treats water for drinking, said David Shindle, City Water and Sewer Department manager.

"We'll just have to see what happens," Shindle said.

Darrell Penwell, Jefferson County, W.Va., emergency services director, said his county's response won't be determined until at least Friday.

Penwell said his office has started scheduling more staff for the weekend and adding phone lines, but the next step would be to start coordinating fire and rescue groups.

"It's still a 50-50 (chance) which way it's going to go," Penwell said.

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